GW Recaps–Two-Faced Woman: Prelude, Chapter One, Two
What the hell is going on with my life?
Prelude: 64 Anticipating Completion (Wèi Jì) Water over Fire
Each book has a different framework. With this one, tarot is replaced by the I Ching. I have a preface regarding the use of the I Ching as I take it seriously as a sacred text in Daoism. The hexagram on the cover of Two-Faced Woman is 11, Tai. It means a sense of fulfillment at having been working on one’s purpose–and a sense of advancing.
What Happens in the Prelude:
Gabriel is having a nightmare where he is back in the warehouse with Ethan Nelson. Nelson tries to kill Joel, and then turns his gun on Gabriel, who feels himself being shot and falling. He wakes up in the middle of the night, and tries to piece together what happened. Bit by bit, with Archie’s help, he recalls that he had been frustrated all day because Alex had demanded that he not work. Joel had come over to help with some tasks so Gabriel could rest–although he does not. Frustrated, he crushes his cigarettes. Joel asks him what’s wrong, and Gabriel can’t say. But Joel knows that Gabriel is still reliving what happened in Westchester and tells him it’s not the first time he’s been threatened with a gun.
Gabriel suddenly just wants to be out. He decides to take a few Xanax. He locks himself in his bedroom. Joel demands to be let in, and finally breaks down the door. He stays with Gabriel, who isn’t in trouble. But he flushes Gabriel’s remaining tablets. Apparently he called Veronica to help watch Gabriel, and even answered one of Alex’s texts to Gabriel, pretending to be Gabriel.
As Gabriel puts all of this night together, Archie reminds him he needs to get his shit together.
Gabriel is not a person prone to using drugs, so the Xanax is a measure of desperation. He’s suffering from PTSD. The Booth case was successful, but Raymond and Toni and Kent are dead. Joel was kidnapped and came within seconds of being killed. Gabriel feels the guilt. And the grief. And the tension. Gabriel feels he can’t make anyone happy. Not Alex, who is pressuring him to work less, and not Joel, who still wants to revive their past relationship.
This book is a level up in dark and edgy, and a touch of surreal with the introduction of dream sequences. Dreams can be scary because we don’t know why they happen nor how to control them. Gabriel’s dream in this section stems directly from his guilt feelings.
He’s not dealing with the daytime any better–as he says himself, either working or boxing, not eating or sleeping much.
Heroic Bluescreen of Death In this trope, the hero is having a mental freeze due to trauma. Gabriel is embodying this, and would agree that his mind is like the fabled computer bluescreen of death.
Playlist: Simple Minds, Alive and Kicking. I’ve found this song to be slightly surreal. It has the building, urgent feel I like in pop music, with the call-and-response vocals. The song is prescient of what’s to come and also what exists in Gabriel’s mind now: Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside? Who’s gonna save you?
Chapter One 35 Proceeding (Jìn)
What Happens in Chapter Two:
Carl Mankiewitz is reporting on Gabriel’s recent activities. A New Jersey news outlet reports on a new case in which Michaela has been hired. Michaela has in turned hired Gabriel to work as an investigator on the case. The case is that of Sophie Faulkner, who has been arrested for murder. The victim is Leonard Mathers, an acquaintance of Sophie’s.
Gabriel has a haunting dream about his mother, and hearing women being tortured underground somewhere. Gabriel and Michaela are in the Union County jail, visiting Sophie.
They have brought Dr. Peter Adler along to evaluate her mental state, as Michaela has seen what appears to be memory related issues. Gabriel is annoyed at Adler’s patronizing attitude toward Sophie.
Sophie mentions someone named Edward, but won’t say who he is. The way she describes him makes Gabriel realize Sophie has a second self. He asks for Edward to appear. Hesitant at first, Sophie leaves and Edward takes over. Edward explains that Leonard was a decent guy who was big into opera and occult theories, but he doesn’t know who killed Leonard. He does mention that Leonard used to hang out at Wildemore hospital.
Despite Gabriel’s harsh words with Adler after the interview, Michaela is pleased with the progress made. She queries Gabriel on what’s going on in his life with Alex and Joel. Gabriel insists his life is not a soap opera, and that he is fine to work on the case, despite the fact Mikki can see how tired and stressed he is. Gabriel finally admits that Alex has been pressuring him to change careers, and is exhibiting some class issues. He’s also fought with Danny over Joel’s return to Gabriel’s life. Mikki points out that she’s picked upon Gabriel and Joel’s unstated feelings for each other.
Gabriel refuses to give that any credence, denying he and Joel are anything but friends. He goes back home to read about Wildemore.
Work is a blessing for Gabriel, in his own words. While he’s sinking personally, he’s still able to be at the top of his game in his instincts, and able to determine (better than the psychiatrist for hire). He have had to admit to Mikki that his personal life is going to hell, and that he’s tortured to a degree, but he refuses not to work and in fact is determined to remain at the top of his game.
Gabriel’s instinct with people that helps him in his work. Dreams begin to play a large part here. In Gabriel’s preoccupation with death, it makes sense his dreams would also invoke dead persons. In this next dream, his mother appears and asks Gabriel to help people being tortured underground.
Very strange places, this one being Wildemore, an abandoned mental hospital in New Jersey.
This story has a different way of looking at persons who have multiple selves. Hopefully, this is turning the trope of the “multiple personality who is murderous” on its head. Sophie is not Sybil, nor is she United States of Tara. Sophie’s characterization is based upon research of persons who have other selves. The term selves is used as it’s more accurate than personalities. Eddie is a different person than Sophie. He helps, but he isn’t there because of childhood trauma. He’s just there, as himself.
Gabriel is a softball player (pitcher). Warinanco Park is a real park just outside of Elizabeth.
Uh-oh, not only is Gabriel having boy problems, he’s also on the outs with Danny. About Joel again.
“You? The Nero Wolfe of the East Village?” Mikki refers to Gabriel’s known love of Nero Wolfe novels.
Carl Mankiewitz, irascible reporter for the New York Scene, is back and updating the world on Gabriel’s activities and fall out from the events in The Hanged Man. The New Jersey press continues to worry at the Buckston incident like a dog with a bone.
We read more of Gabriel’s love of David Gray.
Trivia: The situation Mankiewitz mentions is a real problem in New York City. Trans persons in particular face this harassment.
“Hey, Mr. DJ, …” A line from Madonna’s Music.
“…Martin Amis or Partha Dasgupta.” Martin Amis is a respected British author. Sir Partha Dasgupta is an economics scholar, and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge.
Le Bernadin and Masa–actual expensive restaurants in NYC. Please visit them and let me know how they are.
“…and claim Bono just texted him for advice about the IMF.” Bono (of U2) is well-known for being involved in advocating for third-world countries to be relieved of debt. I’m a fan, ok?
“…noted civil rights activist Bayard Rustin…” Bayard Rustin was a black gay man who was instrumental in arranging Dr. King’s march on Washington, and a friend of King. Please see more about this extraordinary man here, in a discussion with Julian Bond.
Playlist: David Gray, The One I Love. This is a remarkable song. It seems to be a love song, but it’s from the perspective of someone who is dying, apparently in a war-like situation. That makes it all the more haunting. Death is foremost on Gabriel’s mind, so he almost invokes death as a topic.
Concerto grosso. This is a baroque style of music, where small groups of soloists and full orchestras contrast with each other. It has a particular depth and Gothicness to it that applies to the story–a lot of minor keys. One example is here.
Tosca, Vissi d’arte. The first of the opera songs framing Two-Faced Woman. Floria Tosca sings of her misfortune and apparent abandonment by God. Leonard Mathers would appreciate this aria very much.
Chapter Two 31 Influence and Feelings (Xián)
Joel comes over to Gabriel’s apartment, having been overseas taking care of his friend Jan’s estate. Joel is concerned about Gabriel’s state of mind. They spar a bit about Gabriel’s not working (at Alex’s request). Joel then tells Gabriel about a friend of his, Geneva Lennon, who has a problem with her birth certificate. He also mentions that he’s going to have a public exhibition of his art.
Gabriel has Joel help him figure out some of the symbols in Leonard’s notebook. Alex calls and Gabriel ignores it. They go to meet Geneva. Geneva is a bookbinder and restores posters. She qualifies to have her birth certificate changed, but the DOH does not acknowledge the certificate she has as hers. Doing some impromptu research, Gabriel discovers the birth certificate is fake. Geneva’s parents are deceased, so she can’t find out anymore information. She hires Gabriel to look into what happened.
Later on, Joel is in his apartment with his best friend Chris. Chris is asking Joel about his feelings regarding Gabriel and questioning Joel’s contention that the feelings are reciprocated. Chris is sympathetic about Joel’s feelings regarding Gabriel, but also thinks Joel should be more proactive and rectify some of the bad habits that drove a wedge between Joel and Gabriel in the first place.
For Gabriel, he’s in an immersion of feelings. For one, he’s dissembling himself from how he feels about Joel. He’s also ecstatic Joel is pursuing his art in a meaningful way. Taking Geneva’s case and working on Leonard’s musings brings them closer. You might sense their conversation has a different levels and meanings. At the same time, Joel is more painfully aware than ever over how he feels and his being flummoxed over what to do about it. As he tells Chris, he did not expect Gabriel to continue his relationship with Alex and he’s not sure what he could do to draw Gabriel out.
Sexual tension. It’s there between Gabriel and Joel. Joel is aware of it, and Gabriel is being deliberately ignorant.
Decoding–Leonard’s mysterious symbols. To me, decoding is fascinating.
The secret of one’s birth. From Geneva’s case. Gabriel figured out that Geneva’s parents faked her birth certificate, and so she is naturally wondering who she is, and why her parents did this.
When Gabriel wants to dissemble what’s going on with him, he says everything is “fine.”
Gabriel used to have a pet name for Joel, blackbird. This is based on the Beatles song.
Michaela’s a bit of a smartass with her Titanic remark.
Things Gabriel likes: Phillip K. Dick, The Clash, Umberto Eco, Eddie Izzard, David Gray.
Gabriel’s knowledge of Buddhism/Taoism.
Restaurants with strange names: Homme Infernale, which translates into diabolical person.
In The Hanged Man, Gabriel mentioned he wrote occasionally for an online alt magazine called NYCultcha. The beginning of the chapter has one of Gabriel’s article. The problem described within of the New York State Department of Health’s policy with regards to trans people changing the gender on their certificates is real. This has only recently been addressed.
“What is above is what is below.” Gabriel almost sounds like his old self, going on about some obscure topic or another.
“Say what, now?”
“The principle of tabula smaragdina.” –The Tabula Smaragdina (Emerald Tablet) is an ancient book of hermetica, mystical knowledge that may have been used for alchemy.
Playlist: We have a few here. Macy Gray, I Try. This is song Gabriel replays while driving Joel to the airport.
I play it off, but I’m dreaming of you
I’ll keep my cool, but I’m fiendin.
Sounds like what Joel is going through, right? But it must speak to Gabriel somehow. He’s playing it compulsively and unconsciously.
The Beatles, Blackbird
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free
The song is is wistful and reflective. Gabriel used it when he and Joel were in a relationship from a sense that Joel has been trying to find a way to free himself from his past. Gabriel focused on art as a means of release for Joel to be his true self.
Barcarole (also Belle nuit, ô nuit d’amour) by Jacques Offenbach. This is from the opera “The Tales of Hoffmann.” The opera is based upon stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann and Hoffmann himself. Barcarole is known for its deceptive consonance, a harmony that belies a bit of the sinister. Writer Carl Dalhaus called it two-faced. Since Hoffmann’s genre was the fantastic/horror, it fits. The piece appears in the prologue as Hoffmann’s muse takes on the appearance of Hoffmann’s close friend Nicklausse in order to enrapture him to her only.
Night much sweeter than the day
Oh, beautiful night of love!
Ah! Smile upon our joys!
Page updated 7/1/2017
Copyright 2016 Alex Fiano